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La Tavernetta: A Subterannean Gem

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Feb 10, 2006 5:35PM

2006_02_Tavernetta2.jpgTucked beneath Nails by Kim, sports pub Monsignor Murphys and next to a chain pharmacy is a somewhat hidden little Italian restaurant. About as literal a hole in the wall that exists, La Tavernetta lives at 3023 N Broadway below street level. Down a short stairway, the restaurant’s entrance opens directly into the dining room floor, an intimate setting of exposed-brick walls and about 10 candle-lit tables.

Chicagoist stopped by last Saturday night and was greeted by owner and chef Vito Mossa. We put our name down and were seated about 20 minutes later. Stop by during the week, and a table will likely be immediately available. On the weekends, however, a 30 or 60 minute wait is not uncommon, so reservations are recommended (their phone number is 773-929-8787). Mossa and his family run almost the entire restaurant operation – from greeting and seating to cooking and cleaning. He showed us to our table, and bread accompanied by Parmesan cheese and olive oil were promptly brought out. Mossa later returned to read the specials in his rolling, thick Italian accent.

No longer BYOB, the restaurant has a modest wine list, and Chicagoist selected the house red. Shortly after our wine was poured, the appetizer special – a tender portabella mushroom marinated in balsamic vinaigrette and topped with gorgonzola cheese and roasted red peppers – was brought to the table. The moderately priced main menu consists of traditional Italian dishes. Although the homemade gnocchi comes highly recommended, Chicagoist went with the special: crabmeat-stuffed ravioli in a creamy tomato sauce, which was excellent. Nicely satisfied after the meal, we passed on dessert, although classic selections such as cannoli and tiramisu were available.

Cozy but casual, La Tavernetta is the ideal place to take that special someone for any, ahem, occasion that may be approaching (wink wink, nudge nudge) – because you never take us anywhere anymore.


Thanks to Hanna for this post.